Taira no Munemori (平宗盛)

TAIRA no Munemori was a warlord and noble who lived during the late Heian period. He was the third son of TAIRA no Kiyomori. His mother was TAIRA no Tokiko, Kiyomori's lawful wife. The first son of Tokiko and TAIRA no Tokuko, his maternal sister was the mother of Emperor Antoku. He held the office of Naidaijin (Inner Minister) and rose to the rank of Juichii (Junior First Rank). He was commonly called Yashima-daijin.

Biography

Upbringing
He was born in 1147. In this year Kiyomori was 30 years old, Tokiko was 22, and Shigemori was 10. Being born of different mothers and disparate in age, there were seeds of conflict growing between Shigemori and Munemori from the beginning. The conflict between them led to the fracturing of the Komatsu family away from the clan and the control of Munemori, and helped to cause disruption within the clan.

After the Hogen no ran War (turmoil of the Hogen war) was concluded, FUJIWARA no Shinzei worked on national administrative reform and the Dai-dairi (place of the Imperial Palace and government offices) was reconstructed under Shinzei's leadership in October of 1157. On October 22, Shigemori, TAIRA no Yorimori, TAIRA no Norimori and TAIRA no Tsunemori were all promoted in reward for the reconstruction of Dairi castle (Source: Article for this day in "Heihanki (TAIRA no Nobunori's diary)"). On the same day, Munemori was granted the rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) at the age of 11.
("Kuge-honin (appointment to noble office)".)
As Munemori was raised as nobility earlier than Kiyomori and Shigemori, it can be surmised that Munemori received privileged treatment as the firstborn child of Tokiko, his father's lawful wife.

Nijo Shinsei Period (Period of Direct Administration by the Emperor Nijo)
It was during Kiyomori's December 1159 pilgrimage to Kumano, in which Munemori was travelling as a member, that the Heiji no ran War (turmoil of the Heiji war) broke out. Kiyomori returned to the capital and succeeded in letting Emperor Nijo escape from Dairi to Rokuhara. Having secured the position of imperial force, Kiyomori defeated FUJIWARA no Nobuyori and MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, and the war ended with the victory of the Taira clan. In a December 27 Jimoku (ceremony of appointing officials), Munemori was appointed the post of Totoumi no kami (chief of Totoumi Province) in recognition of his services in suppressing the turmoil. He was appointed to replace Shigemori, who was appointed to Iyo no kami (chief of Iyo Province). In January 1161, Munemori became Awaji no kami (chief of Awaji Province) by exchanging posts with his elder half-brother, Motomori. In February, Tomomori, his younger maternal brother, became Musashi no kami (chief of Musashi Province), and his areas were a part of Kiyomori's Chigyo-koku (fief).

In November, with the death of FUJIWARA no Tokushi, who was the head of the Emperor's Family by Emperor Toba's Will, conflict escalated between the political clique of Goshirakawain, a retired Emperor, and the Nijo-shinsei group. In September 1161, it was revealed that there was a conspiracy to promote Norihito (the seventh prince of Emperor Goshirakawa; later Emperor Takakura) to Prince. Emperor Nijo released In no Kinshin (retired Emperor's courtier) to suspend political intervention by the Goshirakawa. Nijo showed an interest in establishing direct administration and ordered Tadachika NAKAYAMA, Kurodo no to (chief of Kurodo-dokoro), to address the Emperor directly; and, Munemori played the role of messenger to convey the order. (Source: Article for November 18, 1161 in "Sankaiki (Tadachika NAKAYAMA's diary)"). It is thought that Kiyomori had sent in Munemori to assist Nijo in order to display his support for the Nijo Restoration.

On October 28, 1162, Munemori was appointed to the position of Sama no kami (head of Samaryo). Sama no kami was the head of the Meryo government office of harnesses and horses in Mimaki ranch that controlled the war horses of the Imperial court; however, Yoshitomo was in this position before the Heiji-no-ran War. As it was a crucial government post for the military aristocracy, Shigemori was appointed to this position after the Heiji-no-ran War. Shigemori's appointment to Uhyoe no kami (minister of Uhyoe-fu) on this day seems to have served the purpose of replacing his status after his resignation as Sama no kami. The replacement for Sama no kami after Munemori's resignation was Shigehira; this was an indication of Kiyomori's strong wish to put Meryo under the exclusive control of the Taira clan.

Kenshunmonin's Yoshi (adopted child)
In April 1164, after the marriage of Motozane KONOE, chief adviser to the Emperor, and Moriko, Munemori's younger maternal sister, Munemori, together with Shigehira, were appointed to the position of attendant of the Sekkan-ke Mandokoro government office. Kiyomori's aim was to strengthen the power of the Taira clan through increased ties to Nijo and the Sekkan ke (Sekkan family). However, when Nijo died in 1165 and Motozane in the next year, Kiyomori switched his policy to support Goshirakawa. On October 10, 1166, Goshirakawa carried out the official investiture of the Crown Prince for Imperial Prince Norihito, and also appointed Kiyomori toNaidaijin (Inner Minister). On the occasion of Gosechi no Sechie, Munemori, together with Shigemori and Tomomori, presented Maihime. (Source: Article for November 13, 1166 in "Heihanki").

In May, next year (1167), Kiyomori resigned as the grand minister of state and Shigemori became Toryo (leader of samurai) of the Taira clan. In August, Munemori was appointed to the position of councillor, getting ahead of Yorimori, Munemori's uncle with higher orders, and secured a position next to Shigemori in the family. Next month, Goshirakawa and Shigeko made a pilgrimage to Kumano accompanied by Shigemori and Munemori, who attended to them. During their pilgrimage, Shigemori attended to Goshirakawa, while Munemori attended to Shigeko along with TAIRA no Tokitada and TAIRA no Chikamune. Munemori was an adopted son of Shigeko through the relations of his mother, Tokiko. When Shigeko became Nyogo (court lady), queen mother and Nyoin (a woman who received "Ingo (a title of respect given to close female relatives of the Emperor or a woman of comparable standing)), Munemori always served Shigeko consistently as Keishi, Kotaigo-gu Gon-taifu or Nyoin-Betto (the attendant to Nyoin) respectively and took her younger sister, Kiyoko (Naishi no suke (vice minister of Naishi no tsukasa) to Emperor Takakura; called Chunagon-sanmi) as his wife. This shows that Munemori was closely connected to Takamune-ryu Heishi (Taira clan of Takamune group); also the clan into which his mother was born.

In December 1169, when a group of priests from Enryaku-ji Temple forcefully petitioned the transportation of FUJIWARA no Narichika, Goshirakawa called upon samurai for defence. The samurai were led by Shigemori, Munemori and Yorimori. Shigemori controlled 200 mounted soldiers, Munemori 130, and Yorimori 150. (Source: Article for December 23 in "Heihanki"). Munemori mobilized an army after Shigemori and Yorimori, confirming his central role in the Taira clan armed force. In December 1170, Munemori was promoted to the position of supernumerary second-ranked councillor of state. In Emperor Takakura's January 1171 ceremony to attain manhood, Munemori played a role in helping him adorn himself with Shozoku.

During this time Shigemori came into conflict with Motofusa MATSUDONO in the Denka noriawase jiken (Incident occurred between Motofusa MATSUDONO and the family of TAIRA no Shigemori) and resigned from his position of supernumerary chief councilor of state. The difference in the official ranks of Shigemori and Munemori gradually got smaller; but, in December 1171, Shigemori was reappointed as the supernumerary chief councillor of state. In 1173, Munemori was promoted to Junii (Junior Second Rank) thanks to Shigeko; but since Shigemori held the higher position of Gondainagon (supernumerary chief councilor of state) and the rank of Shonii (Senior Second Rank), Shigemori and Munemori did not change positions relative to one another. The Shoan Era was a stable period--there seems to be no indication that the relations between Shigemori and Munemori grew any worse, due to the proximity of their official rank. Munemori, accompanying Shigemori, the leader of the clan, attended Goshirakawa's celebration at the age of 50 in 1176.

Political Turbulence
Due to the death of Shigeko in July 1176, the conflict between Taira clan and Goshirakawa--hidden up to that point--gradually surfaced. Munemori, who lost his largest benefactor, resigned as the supernumerary chief councillor of state at the end of the year. However, following Shigemori's ascension to Sa-daisho (chief general of Sakon-e-fu), Munemori was reappointed and also appointed to the vacant post of U-daisho (chief general of Ukon-e-fu) in January 1177. This resulted in a situation where both Taisho posts were monopolized by the Taira clan; however, Munemori maintained good relations with Goshirakawa because he was an adopted son of Shigeko. Goshirakawa dispatched a court noble on the occasion of Munemori's haiga (to offer thanks for one's promotion) on February 3.

Upon Goshirakawa's March visit to Fukuhara the conflict seemed to have eased; however, in April, Enryaku-ji Temple forcefully petitioned the transportation of FUJIWARA no Morotaka, Kaga no kami (chief of Kaga Province). Goshirakawa took a hard line by dismissing Myoun, Tendai Zasu and banishing him. In this instance, Shigemori and Munemori were doing their best to prevent a clash with Enryaku-ji Temple. At the end of May, Kiyomori travelled to Kyoto and met with Goshirakawa. However, Goshirakawa remained determined to attack Enryaku-ji Temple. Soon after, on June 1, a conspiracy came to light that involved the overthrow of the Taira clan by Saiko and Narichika (conspiracy of Shishigadani).

When Saiko and Narichika, who played the central role in In no Kinshin, were killed Goshirakawa was forced to surrender to the Taira clan. The involvement of Narichika, Shigemori's brother-in-law, caused Shigemori to lose face and political rank. Munemori was in a close relationship with Goshirakawa, thus, he was also put in a difficult position. However, with Shigemori being ousted Munemori was forced to take the front stage; and, in April 1178, he was appointed to the position of supernumerary chief councillor of state.

On May 24, Tokuko's pregnancy was confirmed and Munemori's wife, Kiyoko, was chosen as the wet nurse. However, Kiyoko's skin boils grew worse and she died on July 16. (Source: Article for the same day in "Gyokuyo (Kanezane KUJO's diary)"). In great sorrow Munemori resigned as U-daisho. In November, immediately after Tokuko gave birth to Tokihito (First prince of Emperor Takakura, later Emperor Antoku), he was given the name of Imperial prince and the investiture of the Crown Prince was carried out. Munemori returned to U-daisho and became Togu no daibu (chief of Togubo government organization), but he immediately relinquished the position of Daibu to FUJIWARA no Kanemasa. After the death of his wife, Munemori appeared to have lost his political ambitions; and, in February of the following year (1179) he resigned as the supernumerary chief councillor of state and U-daisho. This may have been due to Munemori's mental weakness; however, it is also thought that another reason could be the difficult position in which he was placed in the conflict between Kiyomori and Goshirakawa.

A Coup d'etat and Prince Mochihito-o Raises an Army
When Moriko died in June and Shigemori in July, Goshirakawa seized their manors and Chigyo-koku. Further, Goshirakawa appointed Moroie MATSUDONO, son of Motofusa, to the position of second-ranked councillor of state while ignoring Kiyomori's son-in-law, Motomichi KONOE. Enraged by this, Kiyomori travelled to Kyoto and launched a coup d'etat in November 14 (Jisho Sannen No Seihen (Coups of 1179)). Immediately before this, on November 11, Munemori was travelling a pilgrimage to Itsukushima-jinja Shrine. (Source: Article for November 14 in "Gyokuyo"). There seemed to have been quiet criticism of Kiyomori, but Munemori was summoned back midway through his journey and accompanied Kiyomori. The coup d'etat resulted in the dismissal and transportation of Motofusa, as well as the mass dismissal of anti-Taira-clan nobles, court people and Zuro (rank). Goshirakawa was confined and suspended from participating in the cloister government. After carrying out these measures, Kiyomori returned to Fukuhara. Munemori, who was left in Kyoto, was troubled by the coup d'etat that had begun without first consulting him; but, he was obliged to pick up the pieces. He hunted down and captured In no Kinshin, and seized all of their territories. The seizure of Mochihito-o's territory was the reason he raised an army.

In February of the following year (1180), Emperor Antoku became Emperor and the cloister government of retired Emperor Takakura began. FUJIWARA no Takasue was appointed to the position of Shitsuji-Betto (chief officer) of the In no cho (office of the cloister government). Nobles who held excellent practical business capabilities, such as FUJIWARA no Nagakata, Tsunefusa YOSHIDA, TAIRA no Tokitada, MINAMOTO no Michichika, and Kanemitsu HINO were selected to help the not-so-savvy Takakura. Munemori did not directly join the government. Tomomori was appointed to Mimaya-Betto (chief of Umaya no tsukasa, ministry of the stables) which can be considered the center of military affairs. In March, after abdicating, Takakura carried out Gyoko (imperial visit) to Itsukushima-jinja Shrine. However, in Onjo-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple and Enryaku-ji Temple the priests, who opposed the pilgrimage, were fomenting a movement to seize Goshirakawa and Takakura. Munemori responded by ordering Tomomori, Michimori, Tsunemasa, etc. to be vigilant. Munemori accompanied them as far as Fukuhara, but due to disquiet in Rakuchu (inside the capital Kyoto), he returned to Kyoto as ordered by Kiyomori.

The Itsukushima Gyoko (Emperor's going out to Itsukushima) was completed safely and, in April, the coronation of Antoku was carried out. However, in May, immediately after, a rebellion surfaced led by Mochihito-o. On May 16, negotiations began with Onjo-ji Temple, harboring Mochihito-o, to turn him over. However, the negotiations collapsed and an attack to Onjo-ji Temple by ten commanders, including Munemori, inevitably occurred. (Source: Article for May 21 in "Gyokuyo"). However, the situations escalated when one of the commanders, MINAMOTO no Yorimasa, joined Mochihito-o. There was news that 300 priests from Enryaku-ji Temple had also joined, while Kofuku-ji Temple rose in revolt. This caused the disturbances in Rakuchu. (Source: Article for May 22 in "Gyokuyo"). However, on May 26, the Taira clan army killed both Mochihito-o and Yorimasa, ending the war. On May 30, TAIRA no Kiyomune, son of Munemori, was conferred the rank of Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) in reward for his martial accomplishments. He was the first noble from Kiyomori's grandchildren; and, as Kiyomune surpassed Koremori and Sukemori, his elders, it became clear that the main branch of the family shifted from the Komatsu family to Munemori.

Escalation of Revolts and Kinai-sokan (officer to keep peace in Kinai)
At the beginning of June, Kiyomori suddenly forced through the Fukuhara gyoko (imperial visit to Fukuhara). Munemori, together with Takasue and Kunitsuna, attended the Gyoko of Takakura and Goshirakawa. The plans to build the new capital faced difficult times because of insufficient preparation, and this caused opposing opinions to be voiced; but, Kiyomori refused them flatly. (Source: Article for August 12 in "Gyokuyo"). However, since August, revolts had been launched in various places across the country. With the news of the decimation of the search-and-destroy army in the Battle of Fujigawa, Munemori suggested changing the location of the capital causing a violent quarrel with Kiyomori to ensue and surprising the people around them. (Source: Article for November 5 in "Gyokuyo"). As Munemori, who had remained obedient, voiced his opinion in favour of changing the capital, this caused a wave of such opinion, suppressed up to that point, to emerge. Kiyomori had no other option but to accede to changing the capital (Source: Article for November 12 in Kikki (Tsunefusa YOSHIDA's diary)) and they left Fukuhara on November 23 and returned to Kyoto on November 26.

Starting the next month (December) the search-and-destroy tactics escalated, but hard-fought battles still continued in Omi, the search-and-destroy army was blocked in the front by the rebel army and they were harassed from the rear by groups of priests from Onjo-ji Temple and Enryaku-ji Temple. This continued to the point where rumors spread that Zenmon (Kiyomori) and the former Shogun (Motofusa) had lost morale (Source: Article for December 14 in "Gyokuyo") with Zenmon (Kiyomori) leaving the country's governance to Zen-Bakka. (Source: Munemori)(Article for December 16 in "Gyokuyo"). Anti-Taira-clan forces in Kinai were suppressed by Nanto Yakiuchi (the Incident of Heishi's army setting fire to the temples in Nanto), but the retired Emperor Takakura, who was suffering a worsening illness, died on January 14, 1180. Antoku, who was still in his infancy, could not administer the affairs of state, thus, the reopening of the Goshirakawa cloister government became unavoidable.

On January 19, Senji (to put the Emperor's commands to public) of Kinai-sokan was given to Munemori and told that it was the will of Takakura. It was a very powerful military leadership--covering nine provinces composed of the Gokinai capital region, Omi, Iga, Ise and Tanba. This signified the official approval for the Taira clan to wholly obtain all powers necessary for carrying out military operations. Preparations for a counteroffensive were carried out, such as setting up So-Gesushiki of manors for Tanba on February 7. In the intercalary second month in 1181, it was planned that Munemori, himself, would go as a search-and-destroy envoy to Kanto and 'most samurai of the family will leave for the local (Source: Article for February 26 in "Gyokuyo"),' but as Kiyomori's illness worsened to 'no hope in nine cases out of ten' and the dispatching of the army was postponed. (Source: Article for the first day of the intercalary second month in "Gyokuyo").

Kiyomori died on the fourth day of the intercalary second month in 1181. Immediately before his death, Kiyomori advised Goshirakawa to carry out affairs of state in close cooperation with Munemori. However, receiving no reply, he left with resentment using words like 'Zen-Bakka (Munemori) is absolutely the best person to conduct the affairs of a nation.
There could be no objections. (Source: Article for the fifth day of the intercalary second month in "Gyokuyo).'

Reopening of Cloister Government and Continuing Search-and-Destroy Tactics
After Kiyomori's death, Munemori displayed his intentions to follow Goshirakawa saying 'Even if I did not like certain behavior of the late Nyudo (Kiyomori), I could not rebuke him for it. I could only follow his instructions.
Now, I will do everything in accordance with inzen (an order from the retired emperor).' (Source: Article for the sixth day of the intercalary second month in "Gyokuyo")
In response to Munemori's words, Goshirakawa held the noble's agreement and decided upon the suspension of search-and-destroy tactics. When Seiken delivered the decision by the noble's agreement to Munemori, Munemori required the issuance of In no cho Kudashi-bumi (formal document issued by Cho of In Palace) to search-and-destroy by way of sending Shigehira as the general. When Seiken protested, 'That is not our understanding,' Munemori replied, 'You should invite the nobles--Yorimori and Norimori--to discuss, then tell me again.' (Source: Article for the seventh day of the intercalary second month in "Gyokuyo").

There was conflict between Goshirakawa and Munemori from the beginning because, although the reopening of the cloister government was acknowledged, the Taira clan still held military power through the Sokan system (system of officer to keep peace in Kinai) left by Kiyomori before his death. When Munemori was told secretly, on August 1, that MINAMOTO no Yoritomo had secretly suggested to In (Goshirakawa) that 'If we are not allowed to annihilate the Taira family, the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan should serve together as we did in the past'; however, Munemori refused by responding, 'All of our family members, including our children and grandchildren should fight and die for Yoritomo to the last one' in keeping with Kiyomori's dying will ("Gyokuyo").

The action to search-and-destroy the Minamoto clan was stalemated after MINAMOTO no Yukiie was defeated in the battle of Sunomata-gawa river in March 1181. The factors that led to Yukiie's defeat were the outbreak of the Great Famine of Yowa and Yoritomo's decision to suspend his plan to go to Kyoto and instead concentrate on his operations in Togoku (eastern part of Japan). Therefore, Munemori tried to restrain Yoritomo and MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka by appointing FUJIWARA no Hidehira in Oshu to Mutsu no kami (chief of Mutsu Province) and Suketomo JO to Echigo no kami (chief of Echigo Province). However, Suketomo was a person who had once been defeated by Yoshinaka badly and Hidehira did not move from Oshu. In September 1182, he was promoted to Naidaijin. As Hokuriku-do, where MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka established his influence, was an important route to supply food to Kyoto, in April 1183 the Taira clan devoted a great army of purportedly one hundred thousand to suppress Hokuriku. Violence, such as looting by samurai to cover military costs, occurred and complaints were raised to the capital, but Munemori ignored them. In May, the Taira clan army was defeated badly in the Battle of Kurikara-toge.

Taira Family Exiled from the Capital
As Yoshinaka's arrival in Kyoto was imminent, members of the Taira clan were marching to various places to counter. However, the policy was changed overnight and they were recalled. Accordingly, the Taira clan, together with Emperor Antoku, left Kyo, Capital to the west in July 25, 1183. At this time the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, who was expected to go into exile from the capital, escaped secretly to Mt. Hiei-zan, where Yoshinaka had marched in, on the day before his planned exile. Around 4 o'clock the next morning, Kanezane KUJO, Udaijin (chief of Dajokan) realized this fact, but it took Munemori until eight o'clock before he noticed. For the Taira clan, it became increasingly difficult to insist its legitimacy: it let Goshirakawa get away and the Taira clan was recognized as the rebel army resulting in difficulty getting allies.

Thereafter, partly because of internal insurrection in Kyoto caused by Yoshinaka's failure to search and destroy the Taira clan, it made a comeback temporarily and in January 1184, it established a front-line base in Fukuhara and observed the capital. Goshirakawa ordered Yoritomo to search out and destroy the Taira clan. The army charged with this task and lead by MINAMOTO no Noriyori and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, local governors for Yoritomo, departed the capital at the end of January. In order to retrieve Emperor Antoku and the three sacred imperial treasures, Goshirakawa sent an emissary for peace negotiations. On February 6, Munemori received a document for peace negotiations from the trusted vassal of the Cloistered Emperor. The document read to the effect that an emissary would be sent on February 8 for peace negotiations, that the Taira clan should stand by and that the Minamoto clan had already received these instructions. On February 7, however, it was not an emissary for peace but the army of the Minamoto clan that appeared before the Taira clan's armed camp. Munemori was waiting for the emissary from In in Settsu Province. As a result of the surprise attack by the Minamoto clan army led by MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune on the Taira family honjin (the camp of the supreme commander (Taira family)) in the Battle of Ichinotani, the Taira clan army lost many superior warriors and suffered a heavy blow.

The routed Taira clan army could barely escape to Yashima peninsula. When Shigehira, who was a younger brother of Munemori, was captured in Ichinotani valley, requested by Goshirakawa, he sent a letter asking for the return of Emperor Antoku and the three sacred imperial treasures. Munemori sent a reply refusing the request and censuring Goshirakawa for his enigmatic behavior that could be taken as underhanded. Later in February 1185, the Taira clan army was defeated by Yoshitsune in the Battle of Yashima. Further, on March 24 (lunar calendar), the Taira clan was defeated by an army led by Yoshitsune in the naval battle of Danno-ura. While members of the family, such as the little Emperor Antoku, TAIRA no Tokiko and TAIRA no Tokuko threw themselves into the swift flow of Danno-ura strait one after another, Munemori, the leader of the family, also tried to drown himself, but while he was swimming about, he was taken up with his son, TAIRA no Kiyomune (There is speculation that it was a voluntary surrender).

The captured Munemori and Kiyomune were forced around the capital visible to Goshirakawa; later, they were sent to Yoritomo, in Kamakura. After meeting Yoritomo in Kamakura, Munemori was beheaded by TACHIBANA no Kiminaga, MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune's subordinate at Shinohara-shuku in Omi Province. Munemori was 39 years old.

Kiyomune, Munemori's heir, TAIRA no Yoshimune, the second son (childhood name: vice captain) and two other boys (their names are not known) were executed one after another and Munemori's bloodline was extinguished.

Characters
In "Heike Monogatari (The Tale of Taira family)," Munemori is caricatured as a person devoid of good will. He is portrayed as a person who, in comparison with his elder brother, TAIRA no Shigemori who was a person of excellent caliber, was an arrogant, conceited ignoramus who brought the hatred of other clans upon himself.

According to Azuma-kagami (history book), MINAMOTO no Yoritomo wrote in his letter to his younger brother, MINAMOTO no Noriyori, just before the Battle of Danno-ura: "As Naifu (Munemori) is such a cowardly person, I cannot imagine that he would dare commit suicide." When he was sent to Kamakura under guard, he cried constantly and refused to take meals offered to him. In his interview with Yoritomo, he could not defend his actions and simply asked to have his life spared so he could become a priest. He was harshly censured as not being worthy of having Kiyomori for his father. In "Gukansho History Book," it describes Munemori as a good swimmer, and having repeatedly come to the surface, he resolved to live and was captured alive.

In "Gyokuyo" (March 1182), there are words that epitomize Munemori's character--he said: 'My father exacted revenge immediately if there was any grudge.
I assume ignorance so as to not cause undue disturbances.'
When his wife died during childbirth, he gave up his official post to mourn her death and brought up the bereaved child, TAIRA no Yoshimune, by himself. In accordance with his wife's will he did not have a foster mother raise the child. According to the "Heike Monogatari," his last words at his execution are said to have been--'Has Uemon no kami (Kiyomune) already been executed as well?' showing his consideration for his son. Although he was not a man of the caliber to become leader of a warrior family, he was a family-oriented person who had deep feelings of affection for his wife and children.

Legend

The following episodes are legends, and it is not known whether they are true or not.

The Theft of the Meiba (famous horse) 'Kinoshita'
He wanted to obtain the Meiba 'Kinoshita' owned by MINAMOTO no Nakatsuna, an heir of MINAMOTO no Yorimasa. Once he had successfully used his position of power to forcefully borrow the horse, he did not return it to Nakatsuna, changed the name of the horse to 'Nakatsuna,' and branded 'Nakatsuna' on the rump of the horse humiliating MINAMOTO no Nakatsuna. Purportedly, this was one of the reasons that MINAMOTO no Yorimasa raised an army later.
("Heike Monogatari")

Revenge of Meiba (famous horse) by MINAMOTO no Kiso
MINAMOTO no Kiso, MINAMOTO no Yorimasa's subordinate in the Watanabe-to clan and famous for his bravery, falsely deserted to Munemori's side when Yorimasa rose his army. Kiso deserted to take revenge on behalf of MINAMOTO no Nakatsuna, who had had his beloved horse taken from taken by Munemori. MINAMOTO no Kiso became a favorite of Munemori and soon received an excellent horse. MINAMOTO no Kiso looked down on Munemori because he desired another's Meiba (Nakatsuna's 'Kinoshita') in addition to the Meiba he already had in his possession. He returned to Yorimasa's camp with the Meiba and branded 'Munemori' on that horse and sent the horse back to Taira family side. An enraged Munemori ordered his subordinate warriors to capture MINAMOTO no Kiso alive so that he could tear him to pieces with his own hands. But MINAMOTO no Kiso died in a sword fight after putting on a display of frenzied activity and got praised even by warriors on the Taira family side. Munemori's narrow mindedness was look at with contempt even by warriors on the Taira family side.
("Heike Monogatari")

Naval Battle of Danno-ura
In the Battle of Danno-ura, while family members drowned themselves one after another after disastrous defeat became certain, Munemori, the leader of the family, attempted to escape. Having observed this, the generals came to despise his shameful actions and they finally caught Munemori to hold his head under water. However, Munemori, who was a good swimmer, was rescued by Minamoto clan soldiers. Reportedly, because Munemori was fat like his first son, TAIRA no Kiyomune, he easily floated.
("Heike Monogatari")

Meeting with Yoritomo
When Munemori met Yoritomo, he attempted to flatter Yoritomo and begged for his life. Seeing such behavior, the generals of the Minamoto clan mockingly laughed at Munemori. Yoritomo forced Munemori to change his name to TAIRA no Suekuni.
("Heike Monogatari")

Relations with Tokuko
Reportedly, he was intimate with his younger sister, Kenreimonin Tokuko, their child was the Emperor Antoku.
Genpei-Josuiki (military epic)

Relations with Tokiko
Seeing her son behaving in such a shameful manner at Danno-ura, Tokiko denied that Munemori was the child of Kiyomori and her.

It is said that since the child between her and Kiyomori was a girl, she swapped her biological child with the child of an umbrella seller in Kyo to please Kiyomori, who wanted to have a son. Reportedly, after the defeat of the Taira family, Munemori admitted this and pleaded for his life using the reasoning that he was not a blood member of the Taira family.
Genpei-Josuiki

After Being Captured
Munemori was confined as a captive for a period of time in a place near the present town of Zushi. Local people there did not like Munemori at the beginning, but they gradually opened up to him after seeing him playing with children and feeling his human kindness, which normal samurai were lacking. After his execution, many persons purportedly mourned his death. Upon hearing reports of this Yoritomo simply ignored them.

Official Career

* Date = Chinese calendar
1157 (11 years old)
October 22: Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade)

1159 (13 years old)
December 27: Totoumi no kami (chief of Totoumi Province) (because of deeds of valor in Heiji no ran War (turmoil of the Heiji war)

1160 (14 years old)
January 21: Awaji no kami (chief of Awaji Province)
April 3: He concurrently served as Uhyoe no gon no suke (supernumerary vice minister of Uhyoe-fu)

1161 (15 years old)
January 27: Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade)

1162 (16 years old)
January 27: Sahyoe no suke (vice minister of Sahyoe-fu)
Retained his position as Awaji no kami.

October 28: Sama no kami
Retained his position as Awaji no kami.

1163 (17 years old)
December 20: Mimasaka no kami (chief of Mimasaka Province)
Retained his position as Sama no kami.

1164 (18 years old)
November 18: Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade)

1165 (19 years old)
July 25: Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) (enthronement of Rokujo.
Empress, FUJIWARA no Muneko, to be given)

1166 (20 years old)
August 27: Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade)
November 14: Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) (Daijoe banquet on the occasion of the first ceremonial offering of rice by the newly-enthroned emperor. The retired Emperor Goshirakawa, to be given).

December 30: Resigned as Sama no kami (given to Shigehira)

1167 (21 years old)
January 7: Ukone no Chujo (lieutenant general of Ukone- fu)
Retained his position as Mimasaka no kami.

January 9: Kinjiki Chokkyo (Emperor's authorization to put higher color)
July 12, intercalary year: Resigned as Mimasaka no kami
August 1: Appointed to Sangi. Retained his position as Ukon e no chujo.

December 13: Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank)

1168 (22 years old)
January 11: He concurrently served as Echizen no Gonnokami (supernumerary chief of Echizen Province). March 20: He concurrently served as Kotaigo-gu Gon-taifu.
March 28: Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) (as a prize of Kotaigo (queen dowager), TAIRA no Shigeko's formally entering Dairi Castle)

1169 (23 years old)
April 12: He resigned as Kotaigo-gu Gon-taifu (because of being given the name of a retired emperor).

1170 (24 years old)
December 30: Supernumerary chief councillor of state
He served concurrently as Uemon no kami.

1173 (27 years old)
November 21: Junii (Junior Second Rank) (as a prize of saying a mass for Saishokoin, Gyoko (Emperor's going out and ceremony. Kenshunmon-in, given)

1175 (29 years old)
Saemon no kami

1176 (30 years old)
December 5: He resigned as supernumerary chief councillor of state (Kenshunmon-in died).

1177 (31 years old)
January 24: He was reappointed to supernumerary chief councillor of state. He concurrently served as Ukone no Daisho (chief general of Ukone-fu).

1178 (32 years old)
January 4: Shonii (Senior Second Rank) (Chokin no Gyoko (New Year's visit to the Imperial Palace. Retired Emperor monk Goshirakawa given)

April 5: He served as supernumerary chief councillor of state. Retained his position as Ukon e no taisho.

July 10: He resigned as Ukone no Daisho (illness of his wife, TAIRA no Kiyoko). December 2: He was reappointed to Ukone no Daisho. December 8: He was the chief officer for Imperial Prince Tokihito.
December 15: Togu no daibu

1179 (33 years old)
January: He resigned as Togu no daibu. February 26: He resigned as supernumerary chief councillor of state and Ukone no Daisho.

1182 (36 years old)
September 4: He was reappointed to Gon-dainagon (supernumerary chief councillor of state).
October 3: Naidaijin minister

1183 (37 years old)
January 21: Juichii (Junior First Rank)
February 27: He resigned as Naidaijin minister. August 6: He was expelled.